Page:Court Royal.djvu/253

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to four hundred pounds, even if we use galvanised iron for the roof. Where are the four hundred pounds to come from at the present moment, I should like to know? I have said we will think of it after the Marquess is married.’

‘Who has threatened a bill in Chancery?’

‘Crudge—Crudge, solicitor. He acts, apparently, for all those holding our mortgages. It is a plot, a wicked plot as desperate as any devised by Fenians.’

‘Do not alarm yourself, Worthivale. The people have heard that Saltcombe is going to be married, and they are putting in their claims so as to be sure of their money.’

‘But we must pay. The time is limited—three months—six months. Before a certain day the money must be forthcoming.’

‘Well, Saltcombe will be married before that, and then he can easily get help from old Rigsby. There is no occasion for alarm. For Heaven’s sake don’t rush in on the Duke in the way you tumbled in upon me. Don’t frighten him. He has no idea of the state of affairs. He is under the impression that a great deal of money has been saved by the quiet life we have been leading here for the last seven or eight years.’

‘No money whatever has been saved. Before that the family was in a galloping consumption, now it is suffering from slow paralysis. When the Duke went to town every year the outlay was enormous, and debts accumulated annually at a rate that makes my head spin. Now we live up to our income—that is, to an income unburdened on every shoulder and joint of the spine. There is nothing saved. You cannot save on a deficit.’

‘Well, whatever you do, take care not to trouble his Grace. He cannot bear it.’

‘But, my lord, what am I to do?’

‘Nothing; wait, and keep your counsel. Let the marriage take place, and all will be right. I’ll manage matters with Mr. Rigsby.’

‘But,’ said the steward—‘you will excuse the question—does Mr. Rigsby know the state of affairs?’

‘I believe a word was said about some money being forthcoming at the marriage. I can’t say that he was told everything. I did not have much talk with him. He saw a good deal of the Duke, but then the Duke knows nothing about this unfortunate matter. Leave the affair to arrange itself. If you like I will write to Saltcombe to press on the marriage.’